Another source to help find a ride once you are already in Portebelo is Captain Jack's (a hostel). We would leave the bikes on the boat until later that evening. As dark fell we made our way out to the Amigo. She would carry us til dawn when we came to land on the San Blas Islands. Here the crew of the Amigo would anchor the vessel and we would be free to swim, fish, and adventure onto one of the 365 islands that makes up the chain.
Early the next morning we would set sail again. We would journey through the dark to Sapzurro, Panama arriving early in the morning. From a bay in Sapzurro we were only another launcha ride away from Colombia, Capurgana to be precise. This ride would be much longer, exciting, and the cause of much bickering. Once we anchored in the bay there was no wait, a launcha was out to meet us immediately. Our captain bartered the price of thirty five dollars to get the bikes ashore. We lowered one of the motos into his little boat. We had several ideas on how to stabilize the bike, this did not matter as the captain has his own terrible plan to accomplish the same task. It went something like this, center that thing on one of the seats, get in an awkward position, and hold on to it. He then took off faster than I appreciated (yes, in certain circumstances there is a speed I do not appreciate). We would crash through some fairly rough waves while the captain would yell at us for being in a posture far too efficient, normal and comfortable to be balancing a motorcycle on a dingy in the middle of the ocean. As we finished the first trip the rain (yes of course it was raining) began to increase and soak us and on the return it would sting the face. In just another 20 minutes we would sigh a sigh of relief as the second moto made it to the dock.
Now that we already had used his service the launcha pilot would reveal his new price. 35 dollars transformed to 80. For his short term of employment he had decided to more than double his fair. It is important to note that this man did no manual labor at all during the up or downloading of the bikes. It may seem like 80 dollars is not much, in comparison to prices of other services in the region it was. When I told him I was not willing to pay this increase and handed him $40, adding $5 to the deal. He chuckled and told us to wait until we the captain of our sail boat arrived and we would sort this whole thing out. We would end up meeting again before our vessels captain would arrive. I offered even more than the $40 and he did not take it. I left the money on the table and walked away, he for the time being did the same. Friends near by told me once he realized I was gone he grabbed the cash. He came and found me and tossed the cash back my way with an attitude. I chuckled put the money in my pocket and thanked the man for his free launcha service and walked on.
This ordeal was far from over. The town of Capurgana is very small, a few blocks really. There is no escaping anyone who has any sort of motivation to find you. The next man who found me was a police officer and behind him lurked the shifty launcha man. The officer asked me what had happened and I told him my side of the story. Upon hearing what I had to say the officer seemed to say with his expression and posture, "sounds about right". He turned to the beedy eyed launcha said a few words, turned to me, smiled, and walked away. The launcha now scowled at me and again I could tell that this was not the end of fight. For the time being Nathan (my little brother) and I had some peace and used the opportunity to grab the first land cooked meal we had had in a few days.
The wait for our food was short and on about my third bite in I was "found' by another individual. This man was not in any sort of uniform and lacked the calm discerning demeanor of my new friend, the police officer. This new fellow in a nike polo shirt was accompanied by our launcha buddy, a short angry bald man, and in the back of them was the friendly officer. This man would tell us he was the customs official of the port town and demanded we hand him our passports... there... in the middle of this hostel restaurant. Being a bit of an experienced traveler there is NO scenario that leads to me handing my passport to a man in a Nike polo yelling so loud that his spit is landing in my food in a bar. This humor of this ludicrous request was not lost on me and I began to laugh out loud. This obviously hurt the ego of the Nike customs official. Seeing that we knew his jurisdiction did not follow him out from behind his desk his temper rose and he stomped of back to his small kingdom. The short stump of a man who had been backing him up turned out to be the port manager (sells fairy and launcha tickets, and knows the coming and going of ships). This man decided to take a short turn at us and hurled a few choice curses at us and also stormed off like a mad hobbit. After the enemy cleared the officer came to our table and again we would have a pleasant conversation as we finished our brunch.
A short while later we were "found" yet again, this time a familiar face. Our captain was now involved in this issue. He was concerned that somehow our unwillingness to be taken advantage of would fall back onto him and did not want this scenario to play out any further.